play (the) devil's advocate

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play (the) devil's advocate

To argue against or attack an idea, argument, or proposition—even if one is in favor of it—for the sake of debate or to further examine its strength, validity, or details. Refers to the "Advocatus Diaboli," a person employed by the Catholic Church to argue against the canonization of a saint (and therefore help determine if that person is truly worthy of sainthood). I'm all for universal health care, but I'll play devil's advocate in asking how the government intends to fund such a massive undertaking. Tom is always playing devil's advocate in any given conversation because he loves picking apart other people's arguments.
See also: advocate, play

play (the) devil's advocate

Fig. to put forward arguments against or objections to a proposition-which one may actually agree with-purely to test the validity of the proposition. (The devil's advocate opposes the canonization of a saint in order to prove that the grounds for canonization are sound.) I agree with your plan. I'm just playing the devil's advocate so you'll know what the opposition will say. Mary offered to play devil's advocate and argue against our case so that we would find out any flaws in it.
See also: advocate, play

play devil's advocate

COMMON If you play devil's advocate in a discussion, you pretend to disagree with what someone says in order to make the discussion interesting or to make people think hard about an issue. My motive for playing devil's advocate is to provoke them into thinking about what we mean when we say something is `genetic'. Note: People also use devil's advocate to describe someone who acts in this way. Interviewers may take on the role of devil's advocate simply to see how effectively you can support your idea in the face of opposition.
See also: advocate, play

play devil's advocate

take a side in an argument that is the opposite of what you really want or think.
A translation of the Latin phrase advocatus diaboli , devil's advocate is the popular name for the official in the Roman Catholic Church who puts the case against a candidate for canonization or beatification; he is more properly known as promotor fidei ‘promoter of the faith’.
1994 Jude Deveraux The Invitation She had played devil's advocate with herself a thousand times.
See also: advocate, play
References in periodicals archive ?
I'm willing to play the devil's advocate on this one as well: the investigation requested by the Council of Governors will most likely vindicate the new no-drama Baba Yao.
Now, to say that, Hoffmann worked against the interests of the Adivasis is an absurd attempt to play the devil's advocate.
He till today remains somewhat of an oddball, a maverick who likes to challenge conventional wisdoms and therefore ideally suited Putin's requirement of someone to play the devil's advocate. By May 2000, the Centre's reform plan was ready.
Though seemingly identical to the authentic dissent condition, asking the person to play the devil's advocate eliminated the benefits for creative problem solving.
S/he should play the devil's advocate and attempt to look at a situation objectively.
I LIKE to play the devil's advocate sometimes, so if I see someone having a little bit of a tough time, then I am on their side or if Jimmy is especially hard with someone, then might go after Jimmy a little bit.
We could play the devil's advocate and say we don't need to understand it.
And during that time together, the onus is on the mentor to "play the devil's advocate," McElroy explains.
Let me play the devil's advocate: Why was Revillame singled out?
Having said that, let me play the devil's advocate for a just moment: might it be a good idea to "make assurance double sure," in Macbeth's phrase, and be very conservative about this?
While there are "top-notch people" on and about to become part of the investment committee, only time will tell if they "will be able to effectively play the devil's advocate role in that group, a role Gross has always professed to value highly," notes Jacobson.
A lot of times at a meeting he'll play the devil's advocate, the worst-case scenario guy, and the fishermen will think he's opposing them, but he's just giving them what the opposition will come up with."
Let's play the devil's advocate: is that such a bad idea?
Every semester at the University of Tennessee, a colleague in the Philosophy Department invites me to play the devil's advocate in her introductory class.